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a pataphor for what?

Some more on Oulipo (see previous post), many of whose members were also 'pataphysicians. A pseudo-philosophy devised by French playwright and surrealist avant la lettre Alfred Jarry, 'pataphysics (note the mysterious non-omissive apostrophe) was defined as "the science of imaginary solutions". Or in another definition:

Pataphysics is the science of the realm beyond metaphysics; or, Pataphysics lies as far beyond metaphysics as metaphysics lies beyond physics -- in one direction or another.

The idea didn't catch on until after Jarry's death (as happened with 'Ubu Roi' and his other plays), but after WWII many prominent French writers, including Raymond Queneau, have professed themselves 'pataphysicians. Oulipo was in fact founded as a subcommittee of the Parisian Collège de 'Pataphysique.

Pataphysics is a science which begs and defies definition. Here's yet another one, by Jean Boudrillard, from his essay 'Pataphysics':

Pataphysics is the highest temptation of the spirit. The horror of ridicule and necessity lead to an enormous infatuation, the enormous flatulence of Ubu.

However, perhaps 'pataphysics' most concrete application lies in a figure of speech which was inspired by it: the pataphor. Invented by Pablo Lopez, who defined it as:

  1. An extended metaphor that creates its own context.
  2. That which occurs when a lizard's tail has grown so long it breaks off and grows a new lizard.

In other words, it is a metaphor that spawns its own world, an image that spins out of control to become a kind of nested reality. An example would be:

All the world's a stage. The director had to raise the curtain himself that night because the stage hand was sick. He lay in bed feverishly trying to catch the pattern of the streetlight and the passing cars on his bedroom wall.

Thus this blog post is a pataphor too: defining a made-up science (metaphor for the absurdity of life, the universe and science) and taking it seriously to the point of discussing its real-world applications (pataphor).



100,000,000,000,000 sonnets

' 100,000,000,000,000 Sonnets ' is a nice online version of Raymond Queneau 's 'Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes' (' Hundred Thousand Billion Poems '). Composed of fourteen sets of ten lines, where each line can be combined with thi… Read the full post »

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